Sometimes having that top 10 ranking isn’t enough – you need to look at your competitors, edit and evolve in order to enjoy the effects of a good organic CTR; gaining greater traffic volumes, exposing your brand to a greater volume of people and taking traffic away from your competitors. In this blog post I’m going to examine way that you can optimise your click through rate with the help of markup.
Be aware of your environment; Your website does not exist in a vacuum
Your success is not always down to what you’re doing. Sometimes its down to what your competition is doing as well.
An example of this can be drawn from a popular UK beauty blog essiebutton.com. A quick poke through SEMrush reveals some of the most visible keywords for this popular beauty blog:
Whilst the focus of the blog is beauty, we can see that this particular blog post on Easy Banana Bread is a popular one:
So let’s take a look at all of the keyword terms this post is ranking for. Overall this post has a good level of visibility, but it looks like there there is opportunity to capture a lot more traffic than is currently achieved. The post ranks in second page SERP positions for most of its keywords.
In cases like this it’s important to remember that your website does not exist in isolation. You compete against specific websites which rank above and below for the same terms and its important to look to these in order to assess your own position within the SERP landscape. Lets look at the competition for the essiebutton.com banana bread recipe:
By doing this we can assess that the blog post fails to capture to capture the traffic of its competitors for two main reasons:
- Lack of markup such as recipe & ratings, which the competitors are utilising – a CTR issue
- Lack of written content – video format without transcript or image resource – a content issue
In this case, the video based format of the blog post doesn’t do it any favours when competing with other recipe results. However, the video resource could be turned into an asset by employing Schema VideoObject markup. This would provide valuable visual real estate for the post and set it apart from other results in the SERPs.
Likewise it would be useful to add the recipe in written form below the video in the post in order to help those who want to watch the video upfront but then follow a written recipe as they bake (after all, navigating through a video on your iPad with floury hands isn’t exactly ideal) and many people like to print recipes to re-use again later.
Hansel was a genius
One of my favourite pieces of mark up from the last few years (yes I’m sad enough to have a favourite!) is breadcrumb markup. Breadcrumbs have been used on-page on websites for many, many years, but only in recent times have they become standard in Google search results.
When there is no structured data to refer to, Google will display whatever structure it feels best represents the way that page fits in your site and it bases this on:
- Page URL
- Any breadcrumb navigation on-page
You can see in the essiebutton.com example above that Google has failed to find an effective way to parse the URL into breadcrumb format, which is holding back the result compared to others around it.
If your website has a sensible and/or user friendly hierarchy, then its likely that Google will understand the structure of your website and thus assign the correct crumbs to the page in SERPs, such the example below from the Guardian.
However, if your website’s structure is very old or wasn’t designed with much thought, you might suffer from unhelpful breadcrumbs in search results, which may actually dissuade searchers from clicking on your search result. Take the example of Colanders cook shop (below). There are two issues here:
- They have added their brand name twice in the title tag, which is confusing because their brand name is also a product name –‘wait – am I buying a garlic peeler or a colander?’
- Their URL structure leads to their having an unhelpful breadcrumb in search results
Ah pages - my favourite part of the site
Be clear, concise & creative
As you can see below, having a shorter domain name really pays off on mobile SERPs, as searchers can view more of the breadcrumb and use this to judge if the page is relevant to them. If you’re website is one with a high (or indeed growing) proportion of mobile visitors, its worth thinking about how you can optimise your search results for mobile customers.
You can find more about breadcrumbs and how you should aim to display them in search results in this post by Paula Allen from April 2015.
Don’t just look at title and meta description when thinking about CTR from SERPs, there are other elements that you may have previously glossed over. Often its not a case of your website doing it super-wrong, but that your competitors are doing it much better. If your competitors breadcrumbs are super-helpful and user-friendly, then don’t rely on Google to get your websites right – show it how with markup. You can find a guide to implementing breadcrumb markup in the link cited above.